tor·​ment | \ ˈtȯr-ˌment \

Definition of torment

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : extreme pain or anguish of body or mind : agony
2 : a source of vexation or pain
3 : the infliction of torture (as by rack or wheel)


tor·​ment | \ tȯr-ˈment, ˈtȯr-ˌment\
tormented; tormenting; torments

Definition of torment (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to cause severe usually persistent or recurrent distress of body or mind to cattle tormented by flies
2 : distort, twist

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Synonyms & Antonyms for torment

Synonyms: Noun

agony, Gehenna, hell, horror, misery, murder, nightmare, torture

Synonyms: Verb

afflict, agonize, anguish, bedevil, beset, besiege, curse, excruciate, harrow, persecute, plague, rack, torture

Antonyms: Noun

heaven, paradise

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Choose the Right Synonym for torment


afflict, try, torment, torture, rack mean to inflict on a person something that is hard to bear. afflict is a general term and applies to the causing of pain or suffering or of acute annoyance, embarrassment, or any distress. ills that afflict the elderly try suggests imposing something that strains the powers of endurance or of self-control. children often try their parents' patience torment suggests persecution or the repeated inflicting of suffering or annoyance. a horse tormented by flies torture adds the implication of causing unbearable pain or suffering. tortured by a sense of guilt rack stresses straining or wrenching. a body racked by pain

Examples of torment in a Sentence


No one could understand his inner torment. After years of torment, she left her husband. The mosquitoes were a constant torment.


Not knowing where she was tormented him. he was tormented by nightmares about the accident
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Once again Kevin Systrom goes onstage somewhere and is not forced to answer exactly what led to his departure at Instagram, to my everlasting torment. Casey Newton, The Verge, "Facebook has a growing morale problem," 15 Nov. 2018 Others this week and this morning have spoken to the depths of his torment and the depths of his courage there in the cells of Hanoi when day after day, year after year that youthful iron was tempered into steel. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "Read the Full Transcript of Barack Obama's Speech at John McCain's Funeral," 1 Sep. 2018 Holm himself is afflicted by a personal torment tied to the reason he’s been taken off patrol duty, which is gradually revealed. Soren Andersen, The Seattle Times, "‘The Guilty’: Abduction drama focuses on one cop — and one riveting performance," 16 Oct. 2018 For many, including this reporter, the damn thing needed to remain closed, lest we all be subjected to some kind of horrifying, world-ending torment. Shoshana Wodinsky, The Verge, "The black mystery sarcophagus was opened, and now people want to drink its ‘bone juice’," 20 July 2018 In fact, the existential horror of the Medium Place (boredom and a lack of cocaine) is treated with much more gravity than the possibility of eternal physical torment. Tara Isabella Burton, Vox, "The (secular) gospel according to The Good Place," 27 Sep. 2018 On June 9, a new adaptation of the 1951 Daphne du Maurier novel My Cousin Rachel arrives in theaters, promising all the twisted minds and psychological torment that make du Maurier's stories so horrifyingly captivating. Julie Kosin, Harper's BAZAAR, "Watch Rachel Weisz Screw with Sam Claflin's Mind in the 'My Cousin Rachel' Trailer," 21 Mar. 2017 There’s the long shadow of Charlie Chaplin, whose monumental success and undeniable genius torment Laurel, and the usual exploitation by Hollywood producers like the titan of silent comedy, Hal Roach. Jason Zinoman, New York Times, "Imagining the Unhappy Life of Stan Laurel," 1 June 2018 Did Incognito torment Martin to the point of near-mental breakdown? Peter King,, "NFC Is About to Get Real," 11 Nov. 2013

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

But recently, nobody has been as tormented as the Chargers, who have cycled through six kickers in the past two seasons alone. Andrew Beaton, WSJ, "Why NFL Teams Leave the Playoffs Kicking and Screaming," 11 Jan. 2019 Williams was a tattered soul, a gay man tormented by a series of tempestuous relationships, a constant uphill battle against alcoholism, and a lifelong addiction to prescription painkillers. Adrienne Westenfeld, Town & Country, "T&C Family Album: Tennessee Williams," 3 Apr. 2014 Cow him with a Congressional resolution censoring him for this or that statement and then tormenting him into submission with subpoenas and multiple investigations? The Editorial Board, WSJ, "A Check on Trump? Good Luck," 5 Nov. 2018 There are still days when those questions torment me. Elissa Strauss, Glamour, "The Great Frozen Embryo Debate," 11 Oct. 2018 Spencer becomes extremely strong and faces down the bully who has been tormenting him. Charles Stockdale And John Harrington, USA TODAY, "The 24 most forgettable superheroes in movies," 5 July 2018 After the sizzling sunrays tormented us with its heat, the clouds opened up for a massive downpour. Bianca Gracie, Billboard, "Travis Scott Transforms His Headlining Governors Ball Set Into a Personal Rage Fest," 3 June 2018 Sancia is more tormented and more streetwise than any hobbit, and Clef builds a rapport with her, unlike Bilbo’s Ring. Tom Shippey, WSJ, "Science Fiction: A Bit of Magic Isn’t Always Enough," 12 Oct. 2018 The part of this service that feels truly detoxifying is the simple feat of being in a room without your device for a full 80 minutes, no ambient phone vibrations tormenting you from inside of your bag. Carrie Battan, Harper's BAZAAR, "Escaping the Seduction of Your Smartphone," 26 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'torment.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of torment


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for torment


Middle English, from Anglo-French turment, torment, from Latin tormentum torture; akin to torquēre to twist — more at torture entry 1

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Statistics for torment

Last Updated

31 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for torment

The first known use of torment was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for torment



English Language Learners Definition of torment

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: extreme physical or mental pain

: something that causes extreme physical or mental pain



English Language Learners Definition of torment (Entry 2 of 2)

: to cause (someone or something) to feel extreme physical or mental pain


tor·​ment | \ tȯr-ˈment \
tormented; tormenting

Kids Definition of torment

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to cause severe suffering of body or mind to Flies tormented the cattle.
2 : vex sense 1, harass All last year we tormented Webb. Mostly little stuff, like messing with his locker …— Jerry Spinelli, Crash


tor·​ment | \ ˈtȯr-ˌment \

Kids Definition of torment (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : extreme pain or distress of body or mind
2 : a cause of suffering in mind or body The waiting was torment.

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More from Merriam-Webster on torment

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with torment

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for torment

Spanish Central: Translation of torment

Nglish: Translation of torment for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of torment for Arabic Speakers

Comments on torment

What made you want to look up torment? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


tremendous in size, volume, or degree

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